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Difficulty of the following pieces
#3045961 11/14/20 03:51 PM
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How would you rate these pieces in order of difficulty? I know they are very different, both in style and length, ut still! Personally I dina the Schubert sonata very difficult both to hold together and technically, but I suspect many will say it is mostly difficult musically.

Chopin Ballade 4, Op 52
Chopin Barcarolle, Op 60
Beethoven Sonat no. 30, Op 109
Schubert Sonata no. 20, D 959
Schumann Davidsbündlertänze, Op 6
Debussy Preludes Livre 1
Brahms Fantasien, Op 116

Re: Difficulty of the following pieces
Jorleyy #3045963 11/14/20 04:02 PM
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Some might say it's an impossible question.

And they'd be right. grin

Nevertheless....

Chopin Ballade 4, Op 52
Beethoven Sonata no. 30, Op 109
Schubert Sonata no. 20, D 959
Chopin Barcarolle, Op 60 *
Schumann Davidsbündlertänze
Brahms Fantasien, Op 116
(doesn't mean I don't think the Brahms is real hard)

Debussy Preludes Livre 1 -- don't know; never played or looked through them


* Years ago I would have put the Barcarolle as "easiest."

Re: Difficulty of the following pieces
Jorleyy #3045970 11/14/20 04:28 PM
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I think trying to distinguish between pieces so close in difficulty is a pointless and, to be frank, a silly exercise. Someone who cannot judge the approximate difficulty of these pieces is probably not ready to play them. All these pieces could appear on a senior conservatory recital or Carnegie Hall recital.

Add in the fact that the OP clearly wants to include musical as well as technical difficulty, any rating becomes even more problematic. If piece X has great technical difficulties but easy musical difficulties and Piece Y is the reverse, how can one compare them in any reasonable way? I see little point in rating difficulty of pieces of such similar difficulty.

To the OP: why do you ask this question? Do you really think there will be any consistency in the answers?

Re: Difficulty of the following pieces
Jorleyy #3045981 11/14/20 05:31 PM
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There's also a pretty big difference in format and length as presented. The whole book 1 of Debussy's preludes where there's many individual pieces is hard to compare to a Chopin Ballade, which would also be hard to compare to an entire late Schubert sonata. The benefit of the Debussy or the Brahms is that you get rewarded for each of the chunks that you complete as they can exist on their own.

I'm not in a position to make any recommendations but in my opinion the Brahms or Debussy could be worked on over a longer stretch of time when compared to most of the other works which would be best to wait until you really know (or your teacher can advise) that you're ready.

Re: Difficulty of the following pieces
Jorleyy #3045984 11/14/20 05:57 PM
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Irrespective of the duration of the pieces, i would put 3 groups. For me the most difficult is the ballade 4. Then second group would be the Beethoven, Schubert and the barcarolle and the others in a third group. Of course it is impossible to compare in difficulty a whole sonata and a barcarolle that is 2 or 4 times shorter. It is also not the same to play a long mouvement and a set of shorter pieces.

Re: Difficulty of the following pieces
Jorleyy #3047782 11/20/20 05:42 PM
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I've played a lot of these so I'll give it a go.

Hardest to least difficult (none are easy).

1. Chopin Ballade 4
2. Beethoven Op 109
3. Brahms Op 116
4. Barcarolle
5. Schumann Davidsbündlertänze
6. Debussy Preludes Book 1 (taken as a whole -- individual preludes vary in difficulty)
7. Schubert D959

Aside from the Schubert, which I'd say is easier than the others by a decent margin (still quite difficult though, both musically and technically), these are all very close in difficulty. If you can play any of these well, you can probably tackle any of the others as well.

Re: Difficulty of the following pieces
D959 #3047996 11/21/20 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by D959
.....If you can play any of these well, you can probably tackle any of the others as well.

Yes -- I'd say even more than probably!

Re: Difficulty of the following pieces
Mark_C #3048062 11/21/20 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by D959
.....If you can play any of these well, you can probably tackle any of the others as well.

Yes -- I'd say even more than probably!

True, but it really depends on what styles you're most familiar with. For instance, someone who has never played a Chopin piece might find it difficult to jump straight to the 4th Ballade, even if they can pull of a convincing performance of the Beethoven Op 109.

But then again if someone is playing the Op 109 they should probably have also been working on Chopin before that...so there is that.

Re: Difficulty of the following pieces
D959 #3048106 11/21/20 08:26 PM
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Originally Posted by D959
....For instance, someone who has never played a Chopin piece might find it difficult to jump straight to the 4th Ballade, even if they can pull of a convincing performance of the Beethoven Op 109...

I don't think so. Maybe you're talking from the standpoint of interpretation and/or being able to do a nicely 'idiomatic' performance, but I have the impression that we're talking on a more basic level.
And thus (pardon the pretentious phraseology) grin ....from a more basic standpoint, I'd say indeed if someone can play Op, 109 "well" (as you put it), which means being very well capable of playing all that's in that piece including the "hard parts"....
Even granting that the kinds of difficulties are different in the Beethoven and the Chopin Ballade, I'm confident in saying that anyone who is very well capable of the difficulties in the Beethoven would also be at least capable enough of the difficulties in the Ballade.
To paraphrase a line in a vintage song, I think you can't have one without also having the other. ha


Re: Difficulty of the following pieces
Mark_C #3048325 11/22/20 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by D959
....For instance, someone who has never played a Chopin piece might find it difficult to jump straight to the 4th Ballade, even if they can pull of a convincing performance of the Beethoven Op 109...

I don't think so. Maybe you're talking from the standpoint of interpretation and/or being able to do a nicely 'idiomatic' performance, but I have the impression that we're talking on a more basic level.
And thus (pardon the pretentious phraseology) grin ....from a more basic standpoint, I'd say indeed if someone can play Op, 109 "well" (as you put it), which means being very well capable of playing all that's in that piece including the "hard parts"....
Even granting that the kinds of difficulties are different in the Beethoven and the Chopin Ballade, I'm confident in saying that anyone who is very well capable of the difficulties in the Beethoven would also be at least capable enough of the difficulties in the Ballade.
To paraphrase a line in a vintage song, I think you can't have one without also having the other. ha


I suppose you're probably right. Though I was speaking on a more stylistic level. Still, if someone can learn the necessary "Beethoven sound" to play the op 109, I guess they should also be able to learn a "Chopin sound."

Re: Difficulty of the following pieces
Jorleyy #3052270 12/03/20 01:20 AM
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I think trying to distinguish between pieces so close in difficulty is a pointless and, to be frank, a silly exercise. Someone who cannot judge the approximate difficulty of these pieces is probably not ready to play them. All these pieces could appear on a senior conservatory recital or Carnegie Hall recital.
I don't think the Brahms Intermezzo Op. 116 #6 (least difficult piece on the list) and the Chopin Fm Ballade (most difficult piece on the list) are even remotely close or similar in overall difficulty. Taken as a set, Brahms 116 is more difficult, but still no match for the Fm Ballade.


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Re: Difficulty of the following pieces
Jorleyy #3053842 12/06/20 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Jorleyy
How would you rate these pieces in order of difficulty? I know they are very different, both in style and length, ut still! Personally I dina the Schubert sonata very difficult both to hold together and technically, but I suspect many will say it is mostly difficult musically.

Chopin Ballade 4, Op 52
Chopin Barcarolle, Op 60
Beethoven Sonat no. 30, Op 109
Schubert Sonata no. 20, D 959
Schumann Davidsbündlertänze, Op 6
Debussy Preludes Livre 1
Brahms Fantasien, Op 116

The hardest musically are the Schumann and the Brahms. The easiest technically are the Schumann and the Brahms, although awkward at times. I believe that to play either as a complete set requires more stylistic maturity than any of the other works on this list. The Beethoven Sonata is also a tough nut to crack interpretatively.

I suspect that the Ballade is overall the most difficult here, while the Barcarolle has a lot of tricky fingerwork but is generally pretty straightforward. The Debussy is varied in difficulty—some are hard, some are not, and the Schubert is equivalent in difficulty to a middle-Beethoven sonata.

All of these works require an advanced musician to play convincingly. None of them should be learned by anybody without a confident technique.

Last edited by achoo42; 12/06/20 10:20 PM.
Re: Difficulty of the following pieces
Sweelinck #3053850 12/06/20 10:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Sweelinck
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I think trying to distinguish between pieces so close in difficulty is a pointless and, to be frank, a silly exercise. Someone who cannot judge the approximate difficulty of these pieces is probably not ready to play them. All these pieces could appear on a senior conservatory recital or Carnegie Hall recital.
I don't think the Brahms Intermezzo Op. 116 #6 (least difficult piece on the list) and the Chopin Fm Ballade (most difficult piece on the list) are even remotely close or similar in overall difficulty. Taken as a set, Brahms 116 is more difficult, but still no match for the Fm Ballade.

I disagree. The Chopin is definitely more virtuosic but the Fantasien are, note-for-note, less pianistic and more awkward. I cannot fathom anybody other than an advanced pianist pulling off the complete Brahms set in a competent fashion. If either were played in a competition, no "extra points" would be given to the Chopin in terms of being a much easier task to pull off—anyways, any teenage prodigy can pull of the 4th Ballade nowadays while the Brahms' miniatures are not always so well-played.

Last edited by achoo42; 12/06/20 10:29 PM.
Re: Difficulty of the following pieces
Jorleyy #3054867 12/09/20 03:24 PM
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The only one on the list I’ve studied at length is Chopin’s Ballade #4. It is the most technically challenging piece I’ve ever studied. It took me a year to be able to play it all the way through and two years before I played it well. I studied it during a piano master class and then played it in a recital. It’s also my all time favorite piece. I think playing Chopin’s Etudes is very helpful in studying his other pieces like the Ballades. Schuman’s Davidsblundertanzen are incredible too.

Last edited by Lakeviewsteve; 12/09/20 03:32 PM.

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Re: Difficulty of the following pieces
Jorleyy #3055396 12/11/20 01:39 AM
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The Chopin is definitely more virtuosic but the Fantasien are, note-for-note, less pianistic and more awkward. I cannot fathom anybody other than an advanced pianist pulling off the complete Brahms set in a competent fashion. If either were played in a competition, no "extra points" would be given to the Chopin in terms of being a much easier task to pull off—anyways, any teenage prodigy can pull of the 4th Ballade nowadays while the Brahms' miniatures are not always so well-played.
You make it sound like teenage prodigies who can play the Fm Ballade well are a dime-a-dozen.


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Re: Difficulty of the following pieces
D959 #3061344 12/26/20 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by D959
I've played a lot of these so I'll give it a go.

Hardest to least difficult (none are easy).

1. Chopin Ballade 4
2. Beethoven Op 109
3. Brahms Op 116
4. Barcarolle
5. Schumann Davidsbündlertänze
6. Debussy Preludes Book 1 (taken as a whole -- individual preludes vary in difficulty)
7. Schubert D959

Aside from the Schubert, which I'd say is easier than the others by a decent margin (still quite difficult though, both musically and technically), these are all very close in difficulty. If you can play any of these well, you can probably tackle any of the others as well.

Schubert easiest? That really shows how different we all are. I have played Barcarolle, Op 109, D 959 and Op 116 from this list, and D 959 was for me far harder than the other works. Not musically, but just performing it made me terrified.
I would suspect that my rating would look like this:

1. Chopin Ballade 4
2. Schubert D 959
3. Schumann Davidsbündlertänze
4. Beethoven Op 109
5. Brahms Op 116
6. Debussy Préludes
7. Chopin Barcarolle


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